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8 déc. 2014, Durham University : Facing the Frontier : Cultural Difference, Sovereignty, and Expansion in the Early Modern World

‘Decision-makers have shown a need for help in isolating and understanding the complexity, weight, and relevance of culture as they consider foreign policy initiatives.’

As the CIA publicly acknowledged in a recent mission statement, understanding other cultures is a political imperative in an increasingly connected, globalised world. Assessing cultural topographies becomes an important tool in state intelligence-gathering and analysis.

The early modern period is particularly significant in this regard, where commerce and global settlement inspired people to look outwards even as European states sought to consolidate their power at home. While cultural encounters in ‘colonised’ territories have figured large in recent scholarship, this workshop seeks to build on this material in order to explore the effects of such encounters on the metropole. This will offer new perspectives on the interrelation between politics and culture in a time of state formation, arising from the intellectual and commercial engagement with cultures outside of Europe.

This one-day workshop seeks to broaden the interdisciplinary dialogue of cultural difference and expressions of sovereignty between 1492 and 1800, with a special focus on the effects of frontier experiences on how the home country responded to news and reports of these initiatives. The aim of the workshop is to create a cross-institutional research network that might stimulate further discussion and collaboration on this theme, including the possibility of an edited volume. It will feature a keynote paper from Phil McCluskey (Sheffield).

We invite 300-word abstracts for 20-minute papers from postgraduate and early career researchers, who might address the following questions from the perspective of any early modern European state :

*How did encounters with other peoples, and the comparisons and contrasts these exchanges engendered, affect the policies of those who claimed new territories ?
*How did authorities ‘create’ subjects and encourage obedience to an increasingly centralised state, and how did the tropes and stereotypes of other cultures contribute to this process ?
*What role does culture play in drawing political definitions ?
*How did the successes and failures of privately-sponsored initiatives impact the attitudes and policies of monarchs ?
*What is the relationship between European state formation and European involvement with colonisation and trade to the East and West ?
*How did communities in Europe respond to, or engage with, news from the frontiers ?

Please email your abstract to the conference organisers, Lauren Working and Niall Oddy, at facingthefrontier chez by Monday, 8 December 2014.

Conference : Durham University, UK, Monday 16 March 2015

Key words : political languages ; expansion ; borders ; state formation ; cultural exchange